Hello darling readers! This weekend marks a long-overdue reveal at the Duke Estate in New Jersey: the 50-or-so acres that housed the iconic, likely-historic mansion of the late tobacco baroness, Doris Duke. Once the richest girl in the world is now the victim of her own foundation’s ethical debacle. It is still hotly debated whether the mansion’s demolition was an act of honest decision or to pursue personal interests of the foundation’s executives. The grassroots movement, DORIS (demolition of residence is senseless) maintains that the entire motion was a rude notion to erase Duke’s memory from the very property she called home.
The full article, provided by Mike Deak of the Courier News, is available here: http://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/news/local/land-environment/2017/10/18/duke-farms-unveil-section-where-doris-dukes-mansion-used/776174001/
So what will be on the site of the ‘ramshackle’ mansion? Nothing. The oldest and possibly most historically valuable building (as defined by the foundation’s criteria, not the criteria of the National Trust), the boathouse, will be used as a bathroom. Care to stay classy? The former Japanese gardens, whose specimens of plants were not indigenous to New Jersey as the mission statement boasts, has been altered from its intended, modified, cultural landscape.
It is critical to note that the mansion, whose only real damage was its reputation, was not a pastiche or ramshackle, but instead a treasure trove of styles from select masters of architecture. This timeline of styles and craftsmanship was the only one of its kind, and was lost to the very foundation entrusted to care for the property in late March 2016.
What can be done from here? What can be salvaged from this seemingly-systematic decomposition of a cultural landscape, historic estate, and home of one of America’s most elite families? The answer is surprising, but there is much to be done and a whole landscape still in jeopardy while in the ‘care’ of those who ‘maintain’ it. The half-truths can’t hide their other halves forever. So it’s a precarious game of hide and seek.
Stay tuned for the latest in learning how (and how not) to integrate modern life, green living, and historic integrity through the model of the Duke Estate through the efforts of Operation ORCHID~ Stay curious, darlings!